Preview: Houston Dynamo at Philadelphia Union

Dynamo fight to reenter the playoff positions against Philly; 6:30 pm CT on CSN Plus/Mega TV

THE BASICS
Houston Dynamo at Philadelphia Union
Saturday, September 14, 6:30 p.m. CT
PPL Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

BROADCAST INFORMATION
CSN Houston Plus - 6:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. pregame) CHANNEL LISTINGS
Mega TV - 6:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. pregame)  CHANNEL LISTINGS
MLS Stream of the Week
La Ranchera 850 AM - 6:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. pregame)

PREVIEW

A massive match for playoff positions in the Eastern Conference kicks off Saturday evening when Philadelphia Union entertain the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park. The teams are separated by just two points in the division, Union holding onto fourth place, while the Dynamo are out of the postseason spots only on goals scored. Union return home after having their winless streak stretched to four games in a 1-0 loss at San Jose last weekend; the Dynamo have also gone four games without a win, following their record 4-1 home loss to the New York Red Bulls.

REFEREES

REFEREE: Mark Kadlecik. AR1 (bench): Eric Proctor; AR2 (opposite): Scott Kachmarik; 4th: Sorin Stoica

INJURY REPORT, PRESENTED BY HOUSTON METHODIST

HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: Corey Ashe – Left hamstring strain; Eric Brunner – Right ankle sprain; Andrew Driver – Right calf strain; QUESTIONABLE: Tyler Deric – Right thumb fracture; Calen Carr – Left knee; SUSPENSION: Boniek García

PHILADELPHIA UNION -- None.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (8 meetings): Union 3 wins, 11 goals ... Dynamo 3 wins, 11 goals ... Ties 2
  • AT PHILADELPHIA (4 meetings): Union 1 win, 5 goals ... Dynamo 0 wins, 3 goals ... Ties 2
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Ricardo Clark scored the game’s only goal in the 59th minute for a Dynamo victory July 6 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • The Dynamo have never won at PPL Park, the teams reaching draws in their first two meetings in Chester before Union’s 3-1 win last Sept. 23.
  • The clubs met in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Dynamo advancing 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 win at PPL Park, then a 1-0 home win.
  • Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear v PHI: P8 W3 L3 D2 ... John Hackworth vs. HOU: P4 W1 L3 D0

HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo saw their winless run stretched to four matches, falling 4-1 to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo are in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 37 points from 27 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a dazzling early goal. Eric Alexander started the play down the middle, playing a sharp give-and-go with Jonny Steele and curling a shot from 20 yards out which beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who was off his line.
  • Houston responded four minutes later. Alexander Lopez lofted a perfect pass into the path of the streaking Jason Johnson in the left side of the area, and the rookie took a touch before pushing his shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
  • But early in the second half, the Red Bulls again grabbed the lead. Thierry Henrry collected a ball from Bradley Wright-Phillips and, after a mis-hit backpass from Houston midfielder Adam Moffat, walked into the box and finished past Hall.
  • The Red Bulls stuck in the dagger in the 59th minute. Wright-Phillips put a ball over the top and Steele beat the pulled-up Dynamo back line, rounded Hall and calmly finished for the Red Bulls’ third.
  • With the Dynamo pushing forward, Lloyd Sam found a fourth goal for the visitors, side-footing home from the heart of the area as the Houston back line was pulled apart with sharp passing.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made three changes to the team that suffered a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Mike Chabala, Alexander Lopez and Giles Barnes all came into the team, in place of Corey Ashe, Brad Davis and Andrew Driver.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-2-3-1): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Warren Creavalle, Bobby Boswell, Mike Chabala (Brian Ching 80) - Adam Moffat (Ricardo Clark 53), Alexander Lopez (Brian Ownby 60) - Giles Barnes, Will Bruin, Jason Johnson - Cam Weaver.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Dynamo allowed a club-record four goals in a home match in the loss to New York. They have allowed 12 goals in their last four matches.
  • “We’ve given up five and four in two of our last four games,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “There’s three parts to the game, attacking, defending and transition as they call it or when the ball turns over. When one is not doing well you have to address it with the group.”
  • “The chances they got were not just half-chances; they were breakaways or clear shots,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “If the other team is taking chances and getting half-chances and running away with the ball with difficult shot, that’s one thing. But when it’s a one-on-one, there’s been a breakdown. We’ve had a handful of games now on the trot where we haven’t been good enough,” Hall continued. “I think there’s a common thread.”
  • The match against Philadelphia will be the first of two over the next three weeks against clubs directly around the Dynamo in the bid for a playoff position. They travel to New England on Sept. 28.
  • “We were talking about winning the East a month ago. It was looking very possible. We’re stagnant in one spot. The goal has been scaled back,” Hall said. “... We’re not mad because we’re feeling like it’s slipping away. We’re mad because we know we’re a good team and we’re capable of far greater than this.”
  • “You’ve got to have confidence in whoever is in there. We practice enough with each other; it’s late in the year, so we’re a pretty cohesive group,” said Boswell. “Obviously you don’t want to see guys get injured and go down, but it’s a part of it and we kind of knew with three games in this week with guys missing for different reasons that this was going to be an issue, but for me there’s no fingers to point.”
  • Making a second consecutive start, Jason Johnson scored his first professional goal, in his 11th league appearance.
  • Alexander Lopez made his first MLS start in the center of midfield and contributed his first assist.
  • After missing the last three matches, Ricardo Clark returned to action, coming off the bench for the final 37 minutes in place of Adam Moffat.
  • “We miss Rico, he’s a big part of this team,” Dynamo captain Brad Davis said. “We haven’t had our full team almost all year. That’s frustrating. It really is. We’ve been missing a lot of guys for a lot of time. It’s great to have Rico out there.”
  • Mike Chabala made his first league start of the season, coming in at left back, with Corey Ashe out with a leg injury and Jermaine Taylor on international duty.
  • Andrew Driver was out with a leg injury, after coming off before the hour mark in the loss to Columbus, then there was another late absence after Davis was called into the U.S. national team the day before the New York match.
  • “You have to deal with it,” Kinnear said. “You can’t talk about people who aren’t here. We know they’re not here, but you can’t talk about them because they can’t help you at that moment.”